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The End of Joseph Murphy’s Libel Case

In the case of Librarian Joe Murphy, Team Harpy has apologized and retracted all of their statements:

Apologies and retractions

I apologize for the false and damaging statements that I have made about Joe Murphy. I ask you to please read the following statement for details from my perspective.

On May 3, 2014, I posted a post on my blog entitled “Time to Talk About Community Accountability,” which made certain negative statements regarding librarian Joe Murphy, even suggesting that he had sexually harassed women at librarian conferences. My comments had no factual basis at all. My intention in writing my blog post was to draw attention to the larger issue of sexual harassment of librarians. While I continue to feel that this is an issue that we must all address, I do now realize that Mr. Murphy was the wrong target for my post. There was no basis for me to make the comments and insinuations about Mr. Murphy that I made, except for a single tweet by Lisa Rabey.

Unfortunately, my comments have caused a tremendous amount of damage to Mr. Murphy, for which I sincerely apologize. I want my blog to credibly reflect genuine issues that impact me and my community. I regret making the comments that I did and the effect that they have had on Mr. Murphy and on his career and reputation. I wholly retract my statements and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Murphy for the damage that I have done.

I realize that a lot of people have rallied to my aid, but I have to be honest to them in saying “I was wrong” about Mr. Murphy and I urge anyone who might take the position that they “support” me by helping me to undo the damage I unwittingly caused to Mr. Murphy and to the cause of credible conversations about accountability and harassment.

— nina de jesus

I made false and damaging comments about librarian Joe Murphy for which I would like to apologize. I ask you to please read the following statement for details from my perspective.

On May 3, 4 and 5, 2014, I posted tweets that referenced librarian Joe Murphy implying without a basis in fact that he was a sexual predator. These unsubstantiated statements gained wide attention and caused Mr. Murphy significant damage.

My intention in posting these tweets was to draw attention to the issue of sexual harassment of female librarians in the profession. My statements were made carelessly, and were not based on facts. I have never observed Mr. Murphy sexually harass or exhibit sexually predatory behavior. Ms. de Jesus
relied on my tweets for writing her blog post. My statements should have never been repeated as they were based on gossip and innuendo, not fact.

I was ill prepared for the damaging impact that these unfair statements would have. I wholly retract my statements and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Murphy for the significant damage I have caused to his personal and professional reputation.

I strongly encourage those who aligned with #teamharpy and decided to attack Mr. Murphy to cease to continue to defame or disparage him. Mistakes have been made and we have the opportunity to show good character by apologizing and moving on.”

— Lisa Rabey

On the one hand, this is about as complete a retraction and apology as you can get. It’s a statement confirming that yes, the accusations made were not factual and yes, they did damage Mr. Murphy’s reputation and ability to continue to work in his chosen field. This was pretty much the definition of harmful libel.

So it’s over, right?

Sadly, not at all. First of all, Mr. Murphy’s reputation continues to be besmirched every time someone Googles this affair or even his name. Secondly, some of Team Harpy’s supporters have not yet updated their blogs to reflect the changes in this case. It doesn’t matter if this is omission deliberate, simply a case of waiting until more information is out or simply a case of someone neglecting to update an old blog post (or for that matter, forgetting it exists). Anyone seeing the post may assume that the case is still outstanding and thus form incorrect assumptions about Mr. Murphy’s character.

For Team Harpy, the stigma of making a false claim will remain with them for a long time and will damage the cause that they have attempted to champion as well as their professional reputation.

It is, to put it mildly, a bad ending for all concerned.

Libel is hard to prove— quite correctly the United States has a high bar for such proof, one that is designed to maximize the ability of individuals to speak about important issues. While Canada’s standard is somewhat lower, it is not nearly as friendly to libel suits as some people claim. But these protections are not put in place because libel is not seen as a serious crime— to the contrary these protections exist because free speech is so important. But that does not make the act of libeling someone any less odious, especially in an era where the Internet can toss up examples and stories from years ago at the touch of a search engine.

So what can we take away from this?

1. You must be diligent about what you write. It is most especially important to avoid personal attacks that are not backed up by the truth. Opinions must be clearly stated as opinions.

It cannot be said clearly enough that in today’s world, accusing someone of sexual impropriety can be a career ending event. The same goes for accusing them of financial malfeasance. IF such claims are made, the individual making the claim should ask themselves: If this goes to court, do I have enough evidence to make it clear that my claim is truthful?

2. Being forced to retract a claim can be truly harmful to the larger cause. Sexual harassment exists. But this case has harmed the cause of activists because there is now, spelled out in black and white, a case where an accusation was lodged and then  retracted due to its libelous nature. This weakens further claims and makes it all the harder to form an effective and even handed policy on this issue. It has likely permanently tainted

3. Most importantly, in the Internet age of blogposts and tweets, it’s very possible to get into trouble. You can publish a post with little more effort than talking about it to your friends— but by the virtue of being written down and published, it exists in a far different legal and social context than verbal speech. Individuals should keep this in mind, especially when publishing materials on a public blog.

Libel cases seldom have clear winners— even when the plaintiff wins, the damage to his or her reputation usually means that he merely suffered a less serious loss than would have occurred without victory. But he or she will always face the difficulty of rebuilding a professional or personal  reputation in a world where being forgotten is increasingly difficult, as will the defendants. This case is one such example of how nobody wins when libel raises its ugly head.


When Neocons Make the Case FOR an Iranian Nuclear Project

Making the case for Iranian nukes.

John Bolton’s incoherent New York Times article is practically a laundry list of the discredited arguments used to get us into the disastrous war in Iraq. But the most notable item on that list is the claim that regime change is certainly achievable:

“ Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

We all remember how well regime change has worked out in Iraq and Iraq was a far smaller and less stable nation than Iran. Even the Iranian people who don’t like their government would rally behind it based on the simple fact that it is obvious that American regime change would have nothing to do with the regime’s actions against its own people and everything to do with our desire to subjugate the Iranian nation. Read more…

No, the GOP is not libertarian.

One thing many GOP officials try and claim is that they are more libertarian, more in love with small government than the Democrats are. Evidently, Montana legislator David “Doc” Moore missed that memo in his crusade against Yoga Shorts. His bill, fortunately tabled, would ban nudity and tight clothing that might simulate said nudity. For people who fear those individuals who wear clothes that are a bit too tight, it sounds good. For those who feel that the government should focus on crimes that actually have victims not so much.

The GOP may not want to regulate the same things the Democratic Party does, but make no mistake, they are In no way fans of truly small government. The libertarian label or as they prefer to put it, the “small government” label simply reflects the fact that the GOP has different beliefs in what type of intrusive government they want when compared to the Democrats, but neither party is a true fan of small or restricted government.

Why Bedford New Hampshire School Superintendent Chip McGee hates America.

Patrick Non-White recently posted an article about Chip McGee’s decision to suspend four students for uncomplimentary posts about him.  First of all, I cannot be as confident as he is that a court would, if it came to a lawsuit, uphold those four student’s constitutional rights.  Sadly, Much of the 1990s and 2000s were taken up by a steady rollback of student free speech rights as they were originally articulated in Tinker.  If anything, student free speech may be in worse shape than ever before simply because schools have so many tools to observe students, not simply on campus but when they interact via social media.

But that’s not why Mr. McGee has demonstrated a horrible disdain for American values.  No, the reason is that he is, knowingly or unknowingly, educating his students in the habits of obedience praised by every dictatorship to ever disgrace this planet.  Not nation has enough secret police, enough prisons, enough firing squads to truly maintain control over its people— unless it has already taken control of their social and mental existence.  And the first step in that is to inculcate the people with an acceptance of authority— authority wielded in an inconsistent and arbitrary manner.  The lesson taught is that the law is what the ruler states it is— what is written on the page is merely for show and can be ignored at will.  That the safe thing to do is to anticipate what authority wants, to the best of your ability and to carry out those actions— and nothing but those actions.  Rather than risk that the superintendent might disagree with your statements, you make none— or make only complimentary statements.

Why should we care?  The reason is that our school years are some of the most formative years in our lives.  Habits learned in school, especially high school where a child makes that difficult transition to an adult and free citizen, often remain with us for the rest of our lives.  We may not even recognize that fact, but if will often influence, to a greater or lesser degree, our voting patterns, political stances, even our personal friendships.

I know right now someone is pointing to a friend who rejected everything school taught him…but that in of itself is a sign of how important school can be.  We do not dedicate our lives to rejecting non-essentials.  For that matter, if school wasn’t important, dictatorships the world over wouldn’t spend so much time and effort ensuring they control their schools.

When a school leader casually intrudes upon his student’s rights, when he uses the power of the state to punish speech, he is doing his part to normalize the idea that the state has a right to be capricious.  That rights are not rights, but privileges, that can be revoked whenever authority demands it.

Knowingly or not, Mr. McGee has aligned himself with the forces that disdain our freedoms.  Suspending students over posts may seem a small thing in a world that includes monsters who burn prisoners alive— but great injustices almost always have as their foundation a collection of small injustices that were allowed to go unchallenged.

Hollywood’s Cowardice and Sir Winston Churchill

Saying that someone must take some action “or the terrorists win” has become a near-cliche in America. It’s used in comedies and as part of political attacks and depending on how fanatical the participants are, in some sports.

But as major cinema chains fall over themselves to not show The Interview and as Sony decides to pull the film, we can say, without any doubt that the terrorists have won. More importantly, this outbreak of cowardice will have long running implications not simply for the media, but for every American.

In terms of media, a thriller set in North Korea has already been scrapped by New Regency, according to Deadline Hollywood. It is to be assumed that any future movie involving North Korea (save perhaps movies singing praises to the Dear Leader) will be similarly axed by the paragons of courage found in our media establishments. (Note: It has been confirmed that one movie that was entering production has already been axed due to fears of the Fat Baby).

Some might ask, what the problem is with that? Beyond the fact that it is now becoming increasingly clear that this was a terrorist attack and one directly perpetrated by the North Korean government, good luck getting any documentaries off the ground. In fact, the decision to ban any screenings of Team America by Paramount show that the memory hole is now working backwards.

Cowardice is a hard habit to overcome. NK may be the crazy uncle in the house, but what happens when a company finds that say, Vladimir Putin is very angry about a movie? Or it is hinted that perhaps the ISIL may take offense? Expect to find that future Hollywood fare has very little to do with the real world, and only targets “safe” bad guys. You know, the ones who aren’t likely to make terroristic threats.

Saying that the risks are too great is just another word for cowardice. The risks are always too great when dealing with lunatics, and make no mistake, North Korea is an asylum run by the lunatics.

Why should we care if they won in this case? It’s just a bad film.

Yes. But future films, if anyone can make a credible threat, will pay the price for this cowardice over a “bad film.” Why not? And nearly any film has the chance of insulting someone, especially if it’s about a serious subject. Race in the US? Middle East Politics? Drug Lords? Suddenly everyone knows that there is now a threshold, and not a terribly high one (given the fact that North Korea makes far more threats than it carries out), that will have Hollywood back down. The line has been moved and not in a good direction.

We’ll end this with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, that is very appropriate when you talk about the danger to free speech this cowardice on the part of Sony and Paramount and the various Theater Chains has caused:

“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Wise words. Unfortunately, words that have been discounted in favor of cowardice.

When Association Is Attacked.

Rapper Tiny Doo isn’t just on trial for his speech, but his associations— and that should terrify us.

Let’s make one fact clear.  Brandon Duncan, who raps under the name Tiny Doo, has not been convicted of a crime of violence. In fact, he apparently has never been convicted of any crime. Right now he is being charged under California Penal Code section 182.5. That section concerns individuals who benefit from gang-related criminal activity:

Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) or (b) of Section 182, any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 186.22, with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 186.22, and who willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang is guilty of conspiracy to commit that felony and may be punished as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 182.

The argument made at the preliminary trial boils down to the following: Branden Duncan benefited from his association with the gang because his music sold better due to the gang’s activities. It is not claimed that he participated in any of the murders committed by the gang, or that he provided them any sort of direct assistance, material or other wise.

But his record sold better. And that, in the eyes of District Attorney …. Is enough to convict him of a crime that might very well result in him facing a prison term that might be up to life in prison.

There is a great deal of justified mockery of this decision. Presuming we find nothing else out, such as evidence directly tying Mr. Duncan to the crimes (and if there is, then why didn’t the DA simply charge him with that in the first place), it seems to be a clear violation of his First Amendment right to free speech— and if speech can be criminalized for such indirect ties to crime well then, the news media has already spoken about the potential for criminalizing everything from Hollywood movies that portray criminals to other artists (Frank Sinatra anyone?) who might benefit from their association with “bad boys.”

More seriously, consider how any political group usually gains a number of adherents who are violent— whether it is left wing fanatic making bombs or a right wing anti-abortionist preparing to shoot a doctor. Should they be linked? Their speech is far more directly related to the crime in question than Duncan’s, after all. If benefiting from the actions of others is enough to lead to charges like this, even absent any direct connection with the crime in question, then just about every organization that champions a controversial cause may find itself in deep, deep trouble.

Read more…

When Petitions Demand You Give Up Your Rights

Ken White over at Popehat recently discussed the Canadian libel suit of Librarian Joe Murphy against Nina De Jesus of Canada and Lisa Rabey of the United States. Mr. White is far better equipped to go over the question of the facts of the case as presented. Put briefly, Murphy claims that Jesus and Rabey defamed him by, among other things, claiming that he was a sexual predator and regularly harassed women at various conferences. This includes describing him as a “sexual predator” and claiming that behavior is so well known that “women attending lib conferences literally have instituted a buddy-type safety system to protect themselves?”

The question of who is in the right will hopefully be answered in court. While a Canadian court will have less stringent standards for proving that an individual was defamed, “less stringent” does not mean that Mr. Murphy will automatically win his case. It should be noted that a court case can exonerate as well as condemn and should he lose this case most people will assume that every claim made against him is true.

If he wins however, Mr. Murphy is likely due every cent he will get. Accusations of being a sexual predator (Especially since the term has a number of connotations involving violent rape or sexual offenses committed against minors.) are some of the most career destroying allegations that can be made. Many teachers who were accused and then completely exonerated of sexual misconduct— not simply found not guilty but found factually innocent— have discovered that it made no difference to their careers. In effect the mere taint of the accusation was enough to destroy their careers. The same applies to nearly any profession involving substantial interaction with the public. If he has been defamed (and again, that is for the court to decide) then the damage to him has likely been both expensive and long lasting.

And that is what makes the following petition even more disturbing, as it calls upon, or more specifically, demands that Mr. Murphy surrender his right to bring legal action against individuals he claims have defamed him.

In part, the petition demands that Mr. Murphy do the following:

  1. That you immediately cease legal action against the two defendants.
  2. That you publically apologize for using legal actions to silence and prevent public dialogue about a critical issue in our field.
  3. That you compensate the defendants for any financial costs incurred as a result of your legal actions.
  4. That you make a meaningful, symbolic gesture of solidarity, healing, and reform. We leave the nature of this gesture entirely to your design.

This represents a disturbing demand. It is, not to put to strong a connotation on the petition, a threat. In any professional community an action like this would be taken as a threat that failing to agree with it might very well lead to future professional consequences of a negative nature. So let’s go down the petitions list, shall we?

That you immediately cease legal action against the two defendants.

The answer comes to mind: why? An individual does not surrender his rights upon becoming a librarian. More importantly, the petition is clearly being written from the view point that Mr. Murphy is guilty. It demands apology and compensation, and makes no demands upon the individuals levying the accusations. There is no good “meeting of the minds” here. Someone is right and someone is wrong and in that case, especially in a case like this, the proper venue is before a court that, if not completely impartial, is more so than any of the participants.

That you publically apologize for using legal actions to silence and prevent public dialogue about a critical issue in our field.

Should the victims of the Catholic Church’s inability to control abusive priests apologize for their legal actions? Don’t joke, that was actually a demand made in some cases. In this case, why should he? He is not trying to silence public dialogue, but rather is bringing a lawsuit against what he claims were acts of defamation. If anything, his actions have led to far more publicity of the subject then remaining silent would have.

That you compensate the defendants for any financial costs incurred as a result of your legal actions.

All one must answer this with is to simply ask: What if the defendants are indeed guilty of defamation? Does Mr. Murphy not have a right to seek redress in court?

That you make a meaningful, symbolic gesture of solidarity, healing, and reform. We leave the nature of this gesture entirely to your design.

But why should he? This is of course the problem with the entire petition— not only does it assume that the defendants are automatically innocent, it also assumes that Mr. Murphy is automatically guilty. If he has been defamed, the onus is not upon him to make any gesture at all. In fact, from the text of the petition and the comments of its supporters why should he? He has already been judged and found guilty by the court of gossip and any “gesture” he might make would be seen as proof of his guilt.

There are two reasons why this petition is disturbing.

The first is the attempt to enlist public pressure to prevent an individual from making use of the legal remedies provided him in a case of defamation. Defamation is a serious matter which can literally ruin an individual’s entire career. Indeed, being mugged is likely to have less in the way of long-term consequences. To attempt to use social pressure and what are effectively threats to an individual’s professional career to prevent him from filing a case or to force him to withdraw a case moves against the fundamental concept that recourse under the law should always be available to those who feel that they have been wronged.

And that gets to the second reason why this is disturbing. This tactic has been used, many, many times… against women. Against minorities. Against GBLT individuals who are seeking to obtain greater rights for themselves. The threat that the community, be it the physical locality or the profession in which the plaintiff is active, will ostracize the individual for daring to speak up for his or her rights has been one of the most powerful weapons wielded against those seeking legal redress. Indeed, women have disproportionately been targeted by these styles of attacks— just look at the typical defenses offered in rape cases until fairly recently. It was the victim, not the suspect on trial in court for her dress, her actions, her marital status— in fact, describing the trial as a “Second rape” was very often an accurate summation of events. Such incidents still happen unfortunately, but in general most courts are far less tolerant of that activity on the part of the defense attorney.

Librarians are theoretically dedicated to the open exchange of information and in a case like this, you can find little more open than a court case where the evidence will be made public— indeed, whatever decision the court arrives at, the onlookers have the opportunity to make their own judgment, not merely from the self-interested statements of both the plaintiff and the defendants, but the materials found in the court’s record of the case.

Joe Murphy has the legal right to take action if he feels he has been the victim of defamatory conduct. The defendants have the right to vindicate their position by demonstrating that their statements were true or otherwise privileged. The backers of this petition should be ashamed of themselves that they are attempting to deny an individual his right to seek  legal recourse for harm that he believes that he has suffered.

Disclosure note: I am not personally or professionally acquainted with any of the participants in this case. All information has been obtained from public sources.

FATCA and America’s Foreign Tax Problem

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)is currently causing a huge amount of problems for those Americans who live abroad. In many caess, “Live abroad” is better defined as: America considers you American because one of your parents was American and the IRS is damned well going to get its money.

Listing all the problems with FATCA would take a fair amount of page count, but the Economist, which is the epitome of dry British understatement, describes it as a piece of legislation that include “extraterritoriality stunning even by Washington’s standards.” FATCA isn’t going after rich Americans who enjoy living in New York while they keep their assets in tax free havens— those individuals have a myriad of ways to avoid paying taxes, many of them legal, thanks to years of determined lobbying. No, it’s largely going after middle-class individuals who do not live in the US have no interaction with the US and in some cases did not even know they were American Citizens! This isn’t just antagonizing the populations of tax havens like the Cayman Islands, but is angering many Canadians, voting citizens of one of America’s close allies and a nation that never comes up in the same sentence as “tax haven.”

But the problem of the FATCA isn’t bound up with the legislation itself— as bad and overarching as it is, FATCA is merely a symptom. It is bound up in the very concept of citizen-based taxation, as opposed to resident based taxation.

To put it simply, the overwhelming majority of nations (everyone except America and Eritrea) do not tax non-resident citizens. Beyond the somewhat snarky comment that if every other civilized nation (and for that matter, the uncivilized nations)feels that taxing non-resident citizens is a bad idea, maybe you’re doing it wrong, this shows that America is basing it’s taxation scheme on old and fairly completely discredited concepts of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Will the tax deal be altered?  Maybe not, but like Lando, foreign banks may not have much of a choice if the US does alter the deal.

Extraterritoriality is a fairly rare practice today, mostly related to diplomats, foreign deployed military units and, oh yes, every American citizen on the planet, at least when it comes to taxes. The problem with this is two-fold.

Firstly, why should an American pay taxes when he or she is a long-term resident of another nation? What about when he or she didn’t even know they were an American citizen, which has happened more than a few times and is now finding proud citizens of Canada being informed that they owe Uncle Sam a great deal of money. A resident of another nation who enjoys dual-citizenship is not making use of American resources. He or she is not bound by other forms of American law— commit assault in Britain and you’ll be talking to the British court system, not the American.

Most nations extend this principle to taxation— if you’re living in New York, even if you are a British citizen, the British government assumes that you should be paying your taxes to the United States, not Great Britain, unless of course some of your income is derived from interests in Great Britain. This is different, mind you from the argument that you shouldn’t pay taxes because you’ve never used the state’s services. If you live in a modern state, you are using their services, ranging from enjoying the fact that inspectors make certain your food isn’t laced with arsenic, to the availability of emergency services, whether or not you need them. But if you are not living in that nation, say, you are a Canadian citizen who also is an American citizen, then you are not using those services. You’re using —and paying for— Canadian services. Again, this American style of extraterritorial taxation system is nearly unique on the planet.

The second problem is quite simple: This makes it toxic to work with expatriate Americans, their families, their businesses, or for that matter anything they might touch, especially if you’re a financial institution. FATCA makes use of frankly bullying tactics, including a 30 percent withholding tax on “non-compliant” institutions. In this case, determining compliance is A. Very difficult and B. Essentially opens up vast amount of information to a nation that has had, shall we say, a mixed record when it comes to keeping information confidential. In the worst case, a bank might find themselves penalized by the United States at the same time they’re being sued by their customers because somebody’s financial information ended up on the Internet. Not only that, but what happens after FATCA? A nation that has already claimed the nearly unique right to demand your complete cooperation in how they deal with individuals living in your own nation (not America) may later decide to add other requirements.

What has happened is that these banks are starting to make a simple choice— if having a customer who has dual citizenship could expose you to potentially business-ending consequences… jettison the customer. Suddenly, these individuals are being left without any access to the banking institutions in countries where they have lived for decades, if not their entire life.

As an exercise for the class, imagine what would happen if say, news stories popped up about this behavior on the part of say, China. Congress would collectively go berserk. We might consider that when deciding if this is a good idea.

Dump the Citizenship-Based Tax

There are some solutions to this, but the best solution is also the simplest— go to a residence based tax. The fact that virtually every other nation on the planet, including those with much higher tax rates than America, have residence-based taxation and don’t seem the worse for it is a very good argument for dumping our current system. After all, what does FATCA get us, other than angry allies, increased enforcement costs and victimized expatriates who are getting taxed twice?

Well, sad to say, not much because FATCA is quite likely to cost nearly as much or even more than the tax revenue it obtains for the US.

Why the Russian Bear is Less Ominous Than Some Claim

To say people are concerned about Russia would be an understatement at this point. Putin’s moves in the Ukraine make it apparent that he is attempting (with some success) to redraw the map of Eastern Europe. Fears that he will move on to other nations have been a common theme in many opinion articles.

But hold on. There are some facts that need to be noted.

The first is a simple number:


This number is the World Bank’s estimated Russian 2013 GDP in millions of dollars. Read more…

Texas and Horrible Legal Reporting

Ken White reminds us just how horrible legal reporting can be:

Sometimes the rule of law — due process, application of established rules, procedures, and rights — result in nasty people getting away with bad things. That makes us angry. But it’s not about how we feel.

The Texas court didn’t say upskirts are protected by the First Amendment. Texas could probably ban upskirts, if it did a halfway-competent job of drafting a sufficiently narrow statute.

But who’s going to get outraged about that?

If you’re wondering why I give a shit, consider this: our freedoms are recognized or denied based on court rulings. Our understanding of those court rulings often derives from media coverage of them. When we do a lousy job of covering law, or when we put up with journalists doing so, we’re doing a lousy job as citizens.

It’s hard to put it better than that.  News media is a tremendously powerful force– it can whip up a lynch mob baying for the blood of someone who is not convicted and who may be completely innocent, or it can help force the state and public to take a closer look at an injustice.  The type of coverage Ken exposed is of the former variety.

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